Sunday, December 21, 2008
Last week we launched a lightening speed attack on two French classes (grades 8 and 10) armed with a couple of dozen iPod Touches. The kids, needless to say, were over the moon with excitement.
We spent the first session having them create Twitter accounts and then using TweetDeck so that all the messages were displayed on the big screen at the front of the class. The teacher soon had conversations going in French asking the kids questions and talking about their answers as they displayed. The students were working in pairs and it wasn’t long before I noticed one student using her French/English dictionary while her partner keyed in the answers. The ability for students to respond simultaneously kept them focused and working hard.
How else will we use them? This morning, as I waded through some of the 385 feeds stacked up in my reader, a blog post by Wes Fryer mentioned Tony Vincent’s blog. Learning in Hand is “an educator’s resource for using some of the coolest technologies with students.” Tony has been doing a ‘twelve days of iPod Touch’ series and has got me thinking about more ways to incorporate the uses of iPods in class. I’ll spend some time today reading his posts and looking at his delicious bookmarks for iPods.
Some of the possibilities include:
- having the kids Tweet questions from home and get help from fellow classmates or their teacher
- create flashcards (there’s a way to view PowerPoint slides that I need to find out more about)
- involve students who are away sick by having them Tweet
- create and access podcasts
How would you make best use of these devices in your classroom?
Photo used under Creative Commons by .....dotted.....
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Free Clip Art
I have not been blogging much recently although my mind often turns to thoughts of blogging. It's time to pull back a little and refocus. Twitter has been a great distraction. My RSS feeds rose to over 500 unread.
Wishing you all a wonderful winter break, if you're in the northern hemisphere.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
In a Twitter post this morning Jeremy Davis tweeted to Will Richardson:
teachtech @willrich45 because every time we present without handouts, the luddites get angry
That’s not a bad thing. Let's create a little cognitive dissonance.
I tell workshop participants that I give “Workshops that keep on giving”. Teachers can return to my wiki and see what I’ve added weeks or months after the workshop. They’ll find lessons I’m using with my students, slideshares that explain new resources, links, videos and more.
They can subscribe to my Delicious account and keep up with the resources I add daily. Or add this blog to their RSS feed.
Is all this more valuable than a handout of the PowerPoint presentation I gave? I hope so.
Miss Baker, encourages her students to get out of the sandbox on her class blog Extreme Biology. Teachers need to hear this as well. They need to feel the discomfort that comes with taking risks. Do you feel more gratified when a lesson you’ve taught a dozen times before goes well or when you’ve tried something entirely new and it is a success?
So learn something new. Stop grumbling. Get out of the sandbox. Save a tree!
Monday, December 1, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
I consider myself a lucky person. My women’s kayak group holds a weekly prize draw and I have won so many times that I finally requested my name be removed from the hat out of sheer embarrassment. I’ve won % off coupons, free coffees, hats, pens, you know, all the usual prize items. What I’d really like to win is a Tech for a Week. Someone who can answer all those nagging techie questions I never seem to find time for. Someone who can look at my online spaces and suggest ways to maximize and streamline my efforts. Someone who will write a personalized handbook for me so that when I try to replicate something I have done a few months before I can refer to the notes rather than reinventing. Somehow it’s more frustrating to have to learn how do something a second time than it is the first.
I’m not always so lucky. Yesterday I had a brilliant (well in my own mind, anyway) post ready to go. I thought that I had published it but when I went back later it had completely vanished. No post, no draft, nothing. I suppose it’s out there somewhere circling Earth with all those millions of undelivered email.
Things I found this week:
YALSA has published their 2008 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults themed booklists and also their 2009 nominations in the categories of Dead, Dying & the Undead; Fame & Fortune; Journey>Destination; and Spies & Intrigue.
The NY Times has posted it’s 100 Notable Books of the Year 2007 list and it’s Notable Children’s Books of 2007.
Clover Leaf Photo used under cc license from kaibara87 at
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kaibara/2545331599/sizes/s/ with thanks to Compfight for finding it.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
One of your most powerful tools for making an independent novel study unit a success is to acknowledge those students for whom reading is drudgery. One student I know amazed himself by reading his book in a single night when he tried the Two Bookmark Trick. Here are some simple tricks I use:
• The Two Bookmark Trick - If you have a deadline to finish reading a book follow this simple rule. Divide the number of pages in the book by the number of days you have to read. Use one bookmark to mark your target for the day. Use the second bookmark to mark your place. Most people find that they can easily reach their goal and often read beyond their daily limit. Setting the goal gets kids into the first 15 pages of their book and hooks them.
• The Flood Book - Someone in a course I took some years ago suggested that everyone needs a book with them in case they are trapped by a flood. Take the book everywhere you go. All those 5 minutes you spend in the car waiting while your mum picks up a quart of milk or drops off your sister could be spent reading.
• The 5 Finger Test - many students learned this in elementary school but need to be reminded of it. Open the book at any full page of text and begin reading. For each word you don’t know hold up a finger (They can do this in their heads if they don’t want to be too obvious). If you have 5 fingers up before you reach the end of the page then the book is probably not at your recreational reading level.
• The Fast Return - If you are not into your book within a day or two return it immediately and find something that grabs you. Remember the point of this is to hook kids into reading not turn them off.
• Your brain is like a muscle. The more you exercise it the faster it will process information.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Just playing with iLighter to see how it works. Clearly I haven't got it right just yet as I've had to come back in and repost the link I was trying to save. I was trying to post about Woopid Video Tutorials but seem to have just embedded a link to iLighter. Back to the drawing board.
Woopid offers "free video tutorials for all your computer and gadget questions. Find a quick answer or learn something new. "
Saturday, November 15, 2008
First, a little something for all you English teachers and wordsmiths. A Way with Words: public radio’s lively language show. Listen online or download as a podcast. Scripts included. Jeffrey Hill describes it in his blog here. While you’re visiting Jeffrey’s blog, do yourself a favour and subscribe, it’s a goldmine. Here’s another entry of his on Scholastic’s Word Wizard Dictionary.
You say Tom–ay–toe I say Tam-at-toe
All the words in the world.
Not sure how to pronounce flibbertigibbet? Type it into Forvo and have it read back to you. Forvo often includes more than one pronunciation as in the case of the word ‘data’. If you’re not happy with what you’re hearing you have the option of adding your own interpretation.
I was just watching the SimplyBox demo and I see it as another powerful tool for students to clip and organize information from the web, add comments and share/collaborate with others. Oh for a classroom with one-to-one laptops!
Image credit to Victory of the People from flickr
Friday, November 14, 2008
The finished compositions will be part of a Compassion Project being undertaken by several local districts and as soon as the site is available to the public I’ll post about it here.
My second project was to help one of the Social's teachers start her own wiki. She is new to teaching and very keen. Listening to Wikispaces Illuminate session on using wikis in education was very helpful. It will be archived and information on how to access it will be posted on their blog.
I have been working on a presentation I’ll be giving in early December on using Thomson Gale’s online databases. I put up a new page in my wiki and started adding some student assignments and a SlideShare I created on using Biography Resource Center. Have a look and tell me what you think as I've only used SlideShare a little and would love some feedback before the big event.
While all this was going on several colleagues and I were practising to become comfortable video conferencing using Skype and MeBeam, a group conferencing application that can be run through Skype. Great fun although the kids all thought I was crazy as I seemingly chatted away merrily to myself in my office.
Altogether a very satisfying week and a great opportunity to increase the gray matter.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
These are some ideas:
Look at sites such as flickr or pics4learning that are a rich source of images.
Then make up digital collections and have students respond to images, brainstorming about the feelings/moods/themes/topics that the images invoke. Or have students look for images as metaphors or symbols for a variety of topics and make up their own picture collections.
Use apps like Glogster or VoiceThread to create digital book trailers, reports, character studies, glossaries etc.
Use author blogs such as Alan Gibbons or author websites like Neil Shusterman’s and have students can ask questions or leave comments for the author.
Use a soundtrack to introduce a novel or have students create their own as suggested in Glogowski's Blog of Proximal Development.
Demonstrate essay types using examples. One good site for this is Jenny Eather's Writing Fun .
Have students create digital public service announcements like this one for Freedom to Read.
Have students contribute to the new collaborative online dictionary Wordia.
Use Google maps to bring a story to life – add comments, photos, etc. to a novel’s setting like this one about Marco Polo.
Friday, October 31, 2008
When you check your poll results Vizu includes a map showing where the votes have come from. Nice feature.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
How do you like your news? Do you read your copy of The Globe and Mail or the local tab newspaper as you transit to work?
Or do you like viewing your news online using an archived broadcast like the ones on the Global TV site? Or do you download your news as a podcast?
Here’s a sampling of some of the varied ways you can have your news served up online:
Google News Alerts
Bring the news to you by asking Google News to send you an email alert for any topic you choose.
The Week in Rap
condenses the weeks news into a rap presentation. The lyrics are printed on the site with links to specific stories embedded.
uses Google News to visualize the daily news and arrange stories by popularity. The more items written about any story the more prominent it becomes. News can also be viewed by country which makes for interesting comparisons.
lets you create typographic maps of current news stories.
features a spinning globe that features news articles as popouts with audio and links to more in depth articles.
presents the news in timeline format.
Larry Ferlazzo has created a list of The Best Visually Engaging News Sites
I have my own list of interesting news sources saved in delicious.
Image:Kolk, Melinda. news.jpg. Oct-00. Pics4Learning. 29 Oct 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
MiddleSpot is a visual search engine that displays thumbnails of sites. The interesting feature for me is that it allows you to save a list of the sites you want (called a workpad) and share that list with others.
Middlespot.com lets you:
- see screenshots of your results that you zoom and pan like a map...
- save individual results to a personal workpad...
- share your workpad with friends, colleagues, and family...
I did a sample search for ‘personal learning networks’ and found four great blog posts on the subject that I embedded here:
I'd like to use this with student's by having them find the best sites for a research project and then post it to the class blog.
Check out the Tools tab for some great add-ons like the MiddleSpot Me bookmarklet. It also explains how you can add to your workpad straight from a Google Search.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Just watched Chris Betcher's engaging K12 Online Conference presentation “I Like Delicious Things: An Introduction to Tagging and Folksonomies”.
Chris has a way with words and presents flawlessly. He gives a great introduction to using Flickr and Delicious. He explains how tagging works and gives an interesting use of tag clouds using US presidential speeches which have been presented as tag clouds. I'd recommend this video to anyone new to the world of tagging.
When I introduce tagging to students I compare tags to the words you might use to look up information in an encyclopedia index. I ask them think of tags as keywords. What keywords would they use if they were searching for information on that idea or topic.
Image used under a Flickr Creative Commons Licence: Uploaded on June 23, 2008
by kenleyneufeld at http://www.flickr.com/photos/kenleyneufeld/2606012255/sizes/s/
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
- Rivka Galchen, Atmospheric Disturbances
- Rawi Hage, Cockroach
- Nino Ricci, The Origin of Species
- David Adams Richards, The Lost Highway
- Fred Stenson, The Great Karoo
For Children's Literature
- Alma Fullerton, Libertad
- John Ibbitson, The Landing
- Dianne Linden, Shimmerdogs
- Shenaaz Nanji, Child of Dandelions
- Mariko Tamaki, Skim
- Christie Blatchford, Fifteen Days: Stories of Bravery, Friendship, Life and Death from Inside the New Canadian Army
- Douglas Hunter, God’s Mercies. Rivalry, Betrayal and the Dream of Discovery
- Sid Marty, The Black Grizzly of Whiskey Creek
- James Orbinski, An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarian Action in the Twenty-first Century
- Chris Turner, The Geography of Hope: A Tour of the World We Need
Saturday, October 18, 2008
I heard about this on the tv news the other night. An article in the NY Times reports on a study that will bring joy to hearts of librarians everywhere. Surfing the Internet Boosts Aging Brains. The findings conclude that experienced web searchers stimulate their brains far more when searching the web than less able searchers. It's even more stimulating than reading a book. So, drop that book. Get Googling!
Friday, October 17, 2008
I clearly remember the looks of envy I got as I walked through the school hallways carrying my, then new, turquoise blue clamshell iBook. I felt so cutting edge. Now I’m getting a similar response to my iPod Touch. This time it’s the kids giving me that So-You’re-Finally-With-It look.
I thought at first that my aging eyes would have a problem but that is definitely not the case. It’s wonderfully easy to use and I’ve had fun browsing through all the free apps in the iTunes store. Crazy Pumpkin will be just right for Halloween.
The whole purpose of acquiring the iPod has been to take part in a small focus group studying ways to use iPod Touch with students. We can see lots of potential for students using them on fieldtrips by downloading guides, questions etc. before they go; by taking notes or looking up information during; by tweeting about interesting things they notice along the way.
The Mobile Learner, a blog worth subscribing to, makes a case for using the iPod to save on the cost of photocopying.
So this is too cool. I started this post at work and am now finishing it at home on my iPod. First mobile post ever! Woot!
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
A post in Twitter put me onto a fabulous wiki, etoolbox. I saw some features there that were new to me so I contacted the wiki's creator through Twitter to ask her how she had created them. She replied almost immediately and soon had me adding a widget to my own wiki. Very cool. Very quick. Very easy! Thanks Dianne!
Monday, October 13, 2008
Working with Glogster was fun and fairly easy. I kept losing my work at first as it doesn't seem to save changes automatically. I think you have to hit the save/publish button and then go back in to edit. It was a snap to import graphics, sounds and video.
I think students would love to use Glogster as a book report variation. I can see them finding links to author sites, interviews, choosing suitable graphics and music to reflect the mood and adding a personal reflection. There is a Glogster version for education.
They could create a glog to represent an historical event or time period or to explain concepts in math and science.
Eating Brussels Sprouts is a bit like Twittering to me. When I was a kid I used to avoid sprouts like the plague. But after trying them as an adult I have developed a fondness for them.
After avoiding Twitter for a very long time, I have been Twittering for about a week now and I am liking what I see. I wanted to know what the educational value would be. Keeping in touch with friends on a minute-by-minute is not high on my list of priorities. My cell phone mostly stays turned off on the kitchen counter. So what have I learned:
- it’s easy to build up a network of people to follow. Look on blogs, check to see the people others in your network are following.
- Twitter provides a sense of community. Being a librarian can be a lonely job in that there is only one of you in your school in most cases. In the past week I have felt a sense of connection, learned of some cool new sites and ideas, responded to other people’s requests for information.
It’s fall-off-a-log easy to learn the features of Twitter. Here’s a useful blog post for taking Twitter a step further and using it as a reminder service or conducting a poll.
And in the spirit of the day, Canadian Thanksgiving, here’s the only
Brussels sprout recipe my family will eat. And I give thanks to my friend Sandy for passing it along to me.
1 lb. sprouts
¼ cup olive oil
4 thin slices of prosciutto, chopped
½ cup pine nuts
salt & pepper to taste
Cut the sprouts in half and remove the core. Slice thinly.
Heat oil and add the chopped prosciutto sautéing until crisp.
Add the sprouts and pine nuts and cook, stirring, for 3 min.
Cover and cook a further 2 min. or until sprouts are tender.
And if you don't tell them, they'll never know they're eating sprouts!
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/baha1210/60022315/ by x-eyedblonde.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
If the embedded video is not working go to GoAnimate.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
As you type in your search terms, a list of search suggestions comes up. You can turn this feature off if you don’t like it.
A search for the French revolution turned up Ask Q&A with 777 questions about the revolution. A list of related searches included a timeline, summaries, cause and effects and more. Tabs across the top take you to Web sites, Images, News and a variety of other options like Recipes, which may not apply.
On the Image page you can further select by size, file type and b&w or colour images. It would have been beneficial to have a creative commons search feature on the image search page.
On the news page you can choose to search within categories of news such as politics, business or sports. You can also narrow your sources to certain geographical areas.
I do miss the expand your search/narrow your search features that helped kids think critically about search terms. So I’m not sure if I entirely like the new features. They seem less kid-friendly to me.
I loved the energy in Chris Lehmann’s presentation at IgnitePhilly. His passion for technology is inspirational and I wish he were working in my district.
Someone watching the video posted a question about not being able to see an image posted on the screen behind Chris as he was talking. If you look in the Slideshare below the video you can see the image there.
I’ve been exploring collaborative whiteboard apps. and previously wrote about Dabbleboard.
Today I looked at Scribblar and Twiddla. Twiddla was fun as I played with other guests in the sandbox as we tried out features. I was able to ask a question and have it answered on the spot by a guest who drew in a trail of arrows directing me to the tab I wanted. Very cool. Bringing in images, documents, email and even mathematical formulas is a snap. For teachers without whiteboards in their classes this could be a valuable tool. You can see my scratchings in the image above using Dabbleboard. The perfect oval for the head was done automatically by Dabbleboard, the rest is freehand. For my purposes I liked Dabbleboard and Twiddla best although they all have slightly different features which are useful.
Just watched part of Kristin Hokanson’s presentation to business educators. She does an amazing job and backs up her work with a wiki, The Connected Classroom. I learned about using Cover It Live which provides online chat for participants. I've used Chatzy in the past but you are limited in the amount of text you can record for free. Cover It Live is free.
Twitter at last!
I’ve finally taken the plunge and am Twittering. Don’t know what took me so long. I guess it was just one more thing. It was very easy to become involved and I have learned some interesting things already. I started out with a couple of colleagues as my twitter friends but have expanded to include 24 people to follow. On Twitter I am bookminder.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
The 2008 Scotiabank Giller Prize finalists were announced today:
-Joseph Boyden for his novel Through Black Spruce Book Review
-Anthony De Sa for his collection of short stories Barnacle Love Book Review
-Marina Endicott for her novel Good to a Fault Book Review
-Rawi Hage for his novel Cockroach Book Review
-Mary Swan for her novel The Boys in the Trees Book Review
The winner will be announced at a gala in Toronto on Nov. 11.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
The province has declared October 2008 to be Library Month here in B.C. I am celebrating by joining a book club. We have had our first meeting and established a club presence in Shelfari. Part of the fun for me has been introducing the non-tech literates in the group to this new-to-them application. They are loving it.
Image credit to Lesley Edwards
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
For me, the world of web2.0 is like a giant box of chocolates. I keep an eye out for new applications that are free, easy to use and make the user look like a pro. Two I have been trying out lately have lots of potential. The first one is Flowgram. It allows you to create a presentation with images, web sites or powerpoint slides and add in voice, notes and highlighting. And here's the exciting part, in Flowgram's words, "Viewers can control the pages, scroll, click on links, view videos and more.
Teachers can package tutorials or lessons in a neat bundle that students can access when they need them and view as often as they like. Flowgrams can be embedded in webpages, blogs or wikis. I'm working on a demo to post here.
The other application is called dabbleBoard. It acts as a whiteboard allowing you to draw freehand or set the program to recognize your scribble and turn it into the perfect circle, rectangle or triangle for you. You can import pictures. You can write anywhere on the board just by clicking the spot where you want text to be and typing. Each object you create can be resized or copied. You can save your work for future use or access the public library and use other's drawings. And it allows you to share or collaborate with other people. Take their tour to learn more. This site is in BETA and I can't wait to see what other features they add. Good stuff!
Photo credit: Romanlily at http://www.flickr.com/photos/romanlily/2174577655/
Box of Chocolates http://www.flickr.com/photos/romanlily/2174577655/sizes/o/
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Many exciting events take place over the next few months. Here is a sampling:
Fall Book Harvest is a chance to meet local authors and illustrators on Sunday Oct. 5. Click on the website to learn how to win a free author visit to your school.
International School Library month takes place in October. The IASL website has good resources: flyers, bookmarks, event planning tips and more.
The BCTLA is promoting a province-wide Drop Everything and Read day for Oct. 27 to celebrate International / National School Library Day. They are suggesting 11:00 to 11:20 am. For more information and ideas see the BCTLA forum. The BCTLA is using Google Calendar to post upcoming events.
For a smorgasbord of free online ProD offerings set some time aside for this year's k-12 Online Conference. It runs Oct. 20-24 and Oct. 27-31.
Other Online Offerings:
For science teachers, the last season of Nova Science is available for download free from PBS.
Listen to Time's interview with author Stephenie Meyer.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Slayground in Livejournal.
Cynthia Leitch Smith's YA Science Fiction List.
Library Thing: Young Adult Dystopias
ATN Reading Lists
Sunday, September 7, 2008
I have ignored my RSS feeds for over a month and this morning it was time to delve back into that goodie bag. The first treasure came from Tara's TLC=Tech+Library+Classroom blog. She writes about receiving free books to review from Library Thing. They will mail to Canada.
I wrote book reviews for BCTLA's The Bookmark some years ago. If you have the gift of writing or just love to book talk try out it out. They are always looking for new reviewers. Download the application form. Check the latest issue of The Bookmark online for the new review coordinator's address. The one given on the form is outdated.
Are you headed to Victoria for the 2008 BCTLA conference in October? Check it out at Mission: Literacy.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Visiting relatives in northern B.C. was the perfect reason to see more of this beautiful province. We hiked up to a glacial lake one day and two stunning twin waterfalls on another. We watched a fox crossing the road ahead of our car. We saw eagles fishing and loons diving to safety as the eagles passed low over the water. No number of wildlife programs on T.V. make up for the privilege of seeing animals in the wild.
In Smithers we visited the Northern Lights Wildlife Society where they are giving injured and orphaned wildlife a chance at survival in the wild. They are doing amazing things on a shoe string budget and recently released two grizzlies, a first in B.C.
As my holiday draws to a close I will have many wonderful memories of sunny days spent in the outdoors with friends and family. This will see me through the rainy days of a west coast winter.
Photo Credit: Michael Edwards
Friday, July 25, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Ah, to have the time for some discerning reading. This summer's bookshelf started off with "The Cellist of Sarajevo" by Steven Galloway. This book moved me to tears and pricked my conscience. It's the kind of book that wrings you out but won't let you stop reading. For a review that says it better than I ever could check out Music for a Broken City.
The music refered to is Adagio in G Minor and it has a story all its own. You can hear a snippet of it on Last FM.
From there I moved on to some humorous fluff, Nora Ephron's "I Feel Bad About My Neck." I needed a laugh and found it here. If you're female and approaching middle age (whatever that constitutes these days) you will identify with it. For some time now I have been contemplating retirement and wondering what shape it will take. I'm not ready to give up the learning, just the job. Perhaps I will start an 'on the eve of retirement' blog.
Image used under Creative Commons Licence thanks to: bartimaeus from http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamilsoni/96627234/
Saturday, July 5, 2008
I like to wean myself off slowly as the school year finishes. I find a good book, in this case The Cellist of Sarajevo, and vow to check my RSS feeds and email not more than twice a day. It's been difficult. The book is riveting but there are all the wonderful posts and resources surfacing in the wake of NECC and they are calling to me.
It's wonderful to get a small taste of the excitement and AHA moments as conference goers discover new tools, new ways of reaching students and share all that is good in the world of teaching and technology. I'm checking del.icio.us and diigo for necc08 tags and watching ustreamed presentations.
It's amazing how many people I recognize now in the video clips and photos but have never met in person. At the first NECC I attended in Philadelphia in 2005 I remember being ecstatic when I stopped someone in the hall to ask directions and read Kathy Schrock on her name tag.
So I'm taking a little break from blogging, catching up with family and friends. I fear that some of my newly acquired technology skills will atrophy over the summer so I know I will be back from time to time. Especially if the monsoon-like weather we've been having stays around.
Photo: My daughter at her summer job feeding Moose in the wild Canadian north.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Today my RSS feed offered the suggestion of a site that will appeal to the male population. GuysLitWire "... was created after a broad discussion among YA bloggers within the lit blogosphere about the lack of books for teenage boys." A quick read of recent posts turns up a review of the classic gem Kon Tiki and a list of books with strong heroic characters. I loved their comment about both sexes needing strong role models and that you have to learn how to take care of yourselves because there's not always a hero around when you need one. Read more about them here. I'll be spending some time reading through the posts as I prepare my next book order.
If you have English teachers looking for blogs to share with their students these two would be great choices.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Several people have blogged lately about Wordle which lets you create tags clouds from blocks of text or as I have done here, from a del.icio.us account. It became immediately clear that the focus of my bookmarks is around web2.0, resources and tools. (Click the image for a larger version.)
There are ways you can alter the appearance of your Wordle by changing text font or direction and picking different colours. It makes for great visual impact in a way other tag clouds have not.
Some have suggested using Wordle as a way to analyze creative writing pieces. I think it could also be used to aid group decision making by prioritizing ideas. If all group members added their top five items and the cumulative list was submitted to Wordle it would be easy to see where preferences lay.
Or if you kept a diary of your daily tasks and submitted that you could see a graphic representation of which tasks were performed most frequently. That might make for an eye-catching addition to an annual report.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Ah the joys of inventory. We automated this year. Our district selected Unicorn, a SirsiDynix product, with lots of bells and whistles. I must say I am underwhelmed. Our first attempt resulted in our mystery section being labeled, in its entirety as ‘missing’.
Our wonderful resident techie says we were asking for trouble, it being Friday the thirteenth and all that. And we did have to choose the mystery section for our test run. She is attempting to fix the problem so we don’t have to re-enter all 195 items individually.
And here I thought this year inventory would be a snap.
So I sit, cleaning up computer files.
Waiting for word on how to get the report to run smoothly.
Photo thanks to Mermaniac
Used under a Creative Commons License
Friday, June 6, 2008
My friend Hazel has booked marked some excellent sites for librarians in her del.icio.us account. Here are some of the goodies she has found:
The Teaching Librarian: Exploring the intersection of reference services, technology and instruction.
School Library Media Activities Monthly has some excellent articles on a wide variety of topics such as collaboration, search techniques and 21st century skills.
Resources for School Librarians offers a list of journals, listservs and sites for library research.
Some of my favourite periodicals, like School Library Journal, have many online offerings worth checking into.
Teacher Librarian The Toolkit page which offers excellent resources such as the Collaborative Program Planning and Teaching: Record of Unit of Study that covers all the bases when it comes to planning units. The image above shows a much more simplified version I use with my high school staff who are often too busy for meetings that last longer than a few minutes. [Click to enlarge.]
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Came across some great librarian tattoos from Archie McPhee. I got very excited until I discovered they don't ship to Canada. Too many shipping fees and taxes to make it feasible they say. Ah well. I'll have to think of other ways to impress the kids. LOL!
However, as I was searching for a suitable image for this post I came across some photos in Flickr of a henna tattoo event in someone's library. Now that's an idea I can run with. We could celebrate International School Library Day by having some of the mum's come in and do mehndi style designs on the kid's hands. Maybe "I love my library/books/reading" tattoos.
Image thanks to L.Marie
The Essence of Fundamental Change
From: TraindeTrainer, 3 months ago
This presentation is the personal view of Marina Noordegraaf of the essence of "Presence: An exploration of profound change in people, organizations and society", Peter Senge, Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski en Betty Sue Flowers
Something new I'm going to try soon is Gogrok an online collaboration tool.
It seems you can work on a project simultaneously with the added feature of having an audio chat at the same time. If you are watching some of their demo videos be forewarned that the music bits are overpowering. I had to keep turning the volume up and down between the music and the spoken bits which were very soft by comparison.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Every day anxious faces appear at my door with a problem. Usually it's a problem opening files and today was no exception. A student had created a PowerPoint presentation on her mom's new computer at home. She had saved it to a flash drive but couldn't open it when she wanted to show it in her English class.
Zamzar to the rescue! Zamzar offers free online file conversion so I was able to convert the student's .pptx file to a .ppt file that she could show at school. It is ridiculously easy to use. Simply select the file you wish to convert, choose the preferred format, and give them your email address. Depending on how busy the Zamzar system is you will usually receive a link to your converted file in under 20 minutes.
Last week a friend called asking if I new how to change a pdf file into a fillable form. No problem. I used Zamzar to change the pdf file into a Word document.
It converts .docx files into .doc files. This little bit of magic has saved the day many times!
Photo credits to Aphrodite on flickr
Tough City Writer blogs about the CWILL-BC event Spring Book Hatching at the Vancouver Public Library on June 14th and Bookfest at Malaspina University on May 31st. Click here to download the CWILL-BC poster for the event.
Photo thanks to Chris(archi3d) on Flickr
Sunday, May 25, 2008
I read about a better way to search flickr over at ReadWriteWeb today. It's called Comp Fight and I was very impressed. I'll be checking there first when I want an image for my blog. RRW does a great job of explaining the features Comp Fight has to offer. I loved the way Comp Fight displays image thumbnails which saved me a lot of scrolling. The images were so intriguing it made me want to come up with blog posts just to use them.
Image thanks to Leonardo Cardoso
Found using Comp Fight
Saturday, May 17, 2008
A blog worth subscribing to: The YA YA YAs blog is written by three YA librarians who combine, "book news and reviews (of fiction, non-fiction, and manga), thoughts on librarianship, links to online resources, and craft ideas to use for programming, all with a YA bent". I love their enthusiasm!
YA Authors Cafe has interviews with authors writing for teens along with a list of links to YA authors who blog.
School Library Journal has an interesting blog post written by Anastasia Goodstein "What Would Madison Avenue Do? Marketing to Teens".
It reminded me that I am truly living my dream. I was born a few decades too soon. My home town library had no teen section. The high school library was the kind of place where dropping a pencil in the hushed atmosphere could get you thrown out if the librarian didn't like the look on your face.
Now I run an 8,000+ volume high school library with excellent Internet access. The place is hopping from 8:00 AM until 4:00 in the afternoon. We average around 21 class visits a week, often double or triple booked for some blocks. It is not a quiet place; it is a busy place.
The kids are so busy in fact that they seldom have time just to read for pleasure. It hurts to see the look of regret on a student's face when I show them a book I know they would love and they tell me they simply don't have the time just now. I want to declare a 'no homework' week. Month? I want to ban all needless, endless testing. Why DO they have to memorize things it would take them less than a minute to find online? Who cares exactly when the battle on the Plains of Abraham took place? I rant.
I wish they all had more time to read more of the wonderful YA titles out there. More Stephenie Meyer, more Shelley Hrdlitschka and Susan Juby, more Jane Yolen, more Chris Crutcher, Alex Flinn, Anthony Horowitz. These authors know how to engage teens. Check out Stephenie Meyer's playlist for her novel Twilight.
Image Credits: The Webfooted Booklady, all rights reserved.
Friday, May 16, 2008
I have started using del.icio.us as a way to save the titles of books I want to purchase. When I come across titles in a blog or wiki I can click on the link if one is provided or look the title up on a bookstore website. I save them in del.icio.us with the tag 'bookorder' and when I'm ready to put an order together I can go to my account and browse through the collected links. As I order I can delete the title links from del.icio.us. This lets me save books to my wish list anytime anywhere - no more scribbled notes.
I can also share this list with staff or librarians in other schools. I may in future further categorize by using subject specific tags such 'bookorder_english'. If it catches on perhaps staff will also save book links for me in del.icio.us using a set of pre-arranged tags.
Image thanks to Laughing Squid:
Thursday, May 15, 2008
I posted a link to the Art of Manliness blog which has a list of The 100 Must Read Books for Men. The guys on my staff have given some very positive feedback on the list. Hopefully it will also introduce a few of the newbies to the world of blogs.
What I really wanted to write a post about was Blogs in the Comics but as I was only able to find two I'll just add them here for your enjoyment:
Fisher: the Strips
Pearls Before Swine
I'm excited about a new course being offered next year to the Grade 9 students. It's called Design 9 and will cover much of the software used in school. Every Gr. 9 student will take the course as part of their Planning 9 rotation. I'm going to push for the inclusion of Web2.0 applications.
ASCD has published an article in Educational Leadership which our principal had all staff read this week. It's called Turning on the Lights by Marc Prensky. In it he discusses the "boredom crisis" and how kids are "powering down" in schools and offers four possible remedies. It's a positive step to see admin. taking an active role in promoting change.
Photo Credits go to inju:
Saturday, May 10, 2008
My blog talks! John Goldsmith at DE Tools of the Trade posted about using a new application called Snapvine which lets you post a voice recording to your blog or webpage. Readers can comment back in written form or add their own voice comment.
I can see this being a useful tool for teachers using blogs in the classroom with students who have written output difficulties. Or to lend dramatic effect to English class blogs by posting readings, comments, poetry and much more. How would you use it?
So here goes, my first attempt.
Photo used under Creative Commons Licence by ittybittiesforyou:
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Not much blogging going on of late. Spring has finally arrived and the pressures of year end at school are mounting.
In her blog, The Innovative Educator, Lisa Nielsen talks about how her employers have mandated that no employee can have their blog url in their email signature. This makes no sense to me. I think of the countless hours of ProD. I have accumulated by reading and writing blogs, all at no monetary expense to my school system but to the system's considerable benefit. I just have to shake my head. Then I say a quick thank you to be working in a (so far) very accepting and liberal system. No blocking or mandating here. I do feel frustrated by the fact that many of my colleagues don't know how good they have it because they aren't trying any of the fantastic options that exist beyond the doors of their classrooms.
Lisa's suggestion to include blog urls in email signatures makes a lot of sense. It's one more way to introduce people to the 21st century digital world. I would extend that idea to adding your wiki, social bookmarking or other urls to email signatures.
Now, back to my distractions. There's a visitor in the backyard. Thank heavens for zoom lenses!
The Webfooted Booklady
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Keeping track of things in an online world is for me, a daunting task. I know there's tagging and bookmarking and other great tools. But which do I use?
When I read a great post in my Google reader do I give it a star? Do I save it in Diigo or del.icio.us? Do I save it in my Google Notebook? Or do I do all of these things?
If I tag it what perfect words can I conjure up? This is particularly worrisome to my librarian's brain. My colleague teases me because my del.icio.us account has a very, very long list of unbundled tags. I counter by telling her that I keep it that way in order to show people how to bundle tags during the workshops I give. AND, I find it hard to remember to assign tags in applications like Blogger.
I feel as if my credibility is slipping. I'm a librarian after all, the very person who makes a living knowing where to find things.
Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/silvery/2414538926/sizes/s/
Sunday, April 20, 2008
How did I do this you ask? Britannica is offering free access for online publishers so if you do your own online publishing check out their offer here.
You get complimentary access to the Encyclopædia Britannica online and, if you like, an easy way to give your readers background on the topics you write about with links to complete Britannica articles.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Last night we had a surprise snowfall of almost 5 inches just when I was going to plant a second row of snap peas in the garden. So this morning after snapping a few photos instead I decided to play with Word's draw toolbar and ComicLife. I have been introducing both programs to students all week and they are loving it. I'm going to visit department meetings next week and ask staff to brainstorm how they might use a set of digital cameras in their classes. Cameras would fit beautifully into English classes as students explore the ideas of theme, mood and setting. I can see them fitting into Socials classes for geography and maybe history if classes are visiting historic sites or museums. Science too seems a natural fit.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
I would also love to be able to just send out an email to all those lovely techie people whose blogs I read, asking them how I get myself out of this pickle or if it's even possible. AARGGH!
Maybe a knowledgeable good samaritan will read this.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
DE Tools of the Trade
John Goldsmith lives in BC and is involved with distance education.
Jane's E-learning Pick of the Day
Jane Hart provides a daily site of E-Learning interest. She does Top Ten lists inviting other educators to submit their favourites. A good place to learn about web2.0.
Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day for teaching ELL, ESL and EFL
Larry wins my Prolific Poster award, you want it, he's got it.
The Teacher List
Pete, another Canadian on the lookout for useful links.
Subscribe to them using an RSS feed.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
I feel like a guilty spouse. The one-year anniversary of this blog on Mar. 12 passed my notice. It started out as an experiment to find out more about the potential of blogs and the collaborative web. I began trying out CSLA's 23 Things but once I had set up some RSS feeds and began reading blogs on a daily basis I had more than enough ideas to pique my interest and ignite my personal learning quest. From 2.what? my knowledge and skills have grown to the point that I have incorporated these tools into my practice and teach them to my students, and any one else who will listen.
Judging from reader comments, or rather the lack there of, I don't have a following. But that's more than OK, no pressure to produce. I have a place to reflect which also acts as a repository for my ideas.
Tools I use every day and would not want to live without:
del.icio.us - I use this every day. I set up link lists for staff who bring their classes into the library to do research. I use it in the workshops I give to keep the links I refer to current. I have subscribed to other's accounts and appreciate the wonderful resources they share.
Google Docs and Google Notebook - I use these to collaborate with colleagues, develop lesson ideas, and promote them with my students.
iGoogle - This is my start page with gadgets for Google Reader, Docs, Notebook and blog search. I love the stickies box, the calendar and groups.
Google Reader - where all the best ideas come from.
Jing and Skitch - what fabulous time-savers!
Flickr, Behold - for access to images with creative commons licencing.
Zamzar - for file conversion. This has saved the day on many occasions.
Wikispaces - This has become one of my faves. I use it in workshops and tell teachers that it is the workshop that keeps on giving as they will have access to the pages (and my del.icio.us account) for a long time to come. I think I may be missing some as they have become so ingrained that they have slipped below the level on conscious use. I'm becoming more proficient with VoiceThread, Animoto (love the recent bonus for educators!) and Comic Life.
It has been a wonderfully exciting year. I have loved listening in to WOW2.0's weekly meeting, reading the blogs of educators around the world. On days when turning on the news can bring tears to my eyes I love the optimism expressed by these educators, their wonderful ideas, generosity and dedication.
Thanks all, it's been a slice!
Friday, April 4, 2008
Hot off the press, the new Katherine Holubitsky book "Tweaked" is out. It's set in NVan and is about a kid who's older brother is addicted to crytal meth. You may have caught the review in the Globe and Mail recently. From the back cover:
Gordie Jessup is a good kid, but he's living in a nightmare. His older brother's two-year addiction to crystal meth has left their family emotionally and financially drained. And just when Gordie thinks he can no longer stand the manipulating, the lying and the stealing, things get even worse.
While searching for reviews online I came across Colin Chafer's library site at Howe Sound Secondary. I liked his page explaining REBEL, the school's silent reading program.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Advanced Special Events Planning - Something we do every day.
Surveillance Techniques - Oh no, they're not on MySpace again are they?
Traffic Control - Yes of course, Ms. C., we already have two classes booked this block but I'm sure we can fit your class in for novel selection.
Multicultural Romance and the Culture Clash - Love in the stacks.
Iconography - We're all legends in our own time, right?
Earth Day is April 22. To find suggestions for book displays try the following:
NoveList available throught the NVDPL.
Library Booklists This page links to different libraries offering eco book lists for eco-fiction, green fiction and environmental fiction.
If you have some suggestions please add them to the wiki.
See the Earth Day Canada site for events, links and resources.
TeachersFirst has activities for classrooms.
While I was in the NVDPL site I noticed that they have two new EbscoHost research databases: Student Research Center and Literary Reference Center.
The Learning Activities site has an extensive list of education appropriate gadgets/widgets that can be added to web pages or blogs.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
I've been looking for a video clip to introduce a workshop on web2.0 tools that I'll be presenting to colleagues next week. We Think seems to fit nicely. It's a matter of survival for teacher librarians to establish communities of colleagues outside the walls of their own schools. In my own practice I have seen my personal community evolve from face-to-face meetings, to email, to wikis, blogs and sharing resources on del.icio.us.
I need to tell them that it's a friendly world out there. That they'll be amazed with the connections they can make. That there's a tidal wave coming and if they don't dive in they'll be swept away. Hopefully I'll hook them with enthusiasm and not scare them off.
It's not a bad thing that we feel like students again. Empathy builds bridges.
Monday, March 31, 2008
It seems the blogging community is going head over heels for diigo. Miguel Guhlin is bringing some interesting comments to the diigo conversation. There is so much here to learn.
I'm finding that features work differently on different computers which is confusing. I am also noting some glitches: yesterday I could blog post from diigo with no problem. Today, with this post, the URL for Miguel's page did transfer over and I had to enter it as an edit on this page.
The 'turning a list into a slideshow with an audio track' feature has some wonderful possibilities. The rest of my job may just have to be on hold while I play!
Sunday, March 30, 2008
More on diigo from Dave Warlick. Look at the link at the bottom of his post which shows you how to set up an RSS feed for blog posts on diigo. I set mine up as a box on iGoogle so I can see how other educators are using this resource.
Just trying to post directly from diigo to my blog here. This is exciting stuff! Diigo offers a variety of formatting options which are easy to use. You can insert additional links or even graphics.
who had the idea of using Google Notebook to collect blog ideas. Thanks Jenny! Have a look at Sue's comment and check out the two links she included. The second one talks about diigo.
Today I am exploring diigo further. My first attempt to post directly to my blog from diigo failed but they helpfully sent a message advising me to report it in the diigo forum where they will help me out.
This stuff is magical to me. I have many things to do in my day but I know that the first hour at least will find me playing with diigo and exploring the possibilities.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
And thanks to the following, who also helped me learn a little more about the wonderful world of web2.0:
Kristin Hokanson in her Connected Classroom blog wrote about DIG-ing diigo the social bookmarking tool. I have had diigo sitting on my toolbar for a while but haven't used it until today. I have been an enthusiastic user of del.icio.us and until now was loathe to switch to something new. I refer people attending the workshops I give to my del.icio.us account. Diigo offers a great solution. It lets you bookmark sites simultaneously in del.icio.us. Now I can try out diigo and still keep up my del.icio.us account with no extra trouble.
Sue Waters in The Edublogger for expanding my knowledge of how to use RSS feeds effectively.
Judy O'Connell on her blog Hey Jude for eloquently reminding me that in order to teach others to use the tools, teacher librarians need to be using them in their own daily practice.
Friday, March 28, 2008
No doubt the students have been spending their two-week spring break resting up and plotting fabulous April Fools' Day pranks. My best have included announcing on the PA that starting the following day, students with overdues would be charged a $1/per book/per day fine on overdues. Normally we don't have fines. The books poured in! Here is some inspiration for you:
* Snopes on the origins of April Fools' Day
* Museum of Hoaxes Top 100 April Fool's Day Hoaxes of all time.
April 7 is World Health Day and the World Health Organization is celebrating its 60th anniversary. Follow the links to a retrospective on public health and activities taking place throughout the year. What health issues confront your students? Thinking of comparing them with the issues facing students in other countries? A sidebar link on Countries provides statistics and health issues such as risk factors, outbreaks and crisis, and mortality and burden of disease for countries around the world. The sidebar also has links to worldwide data and statistics, WHO publications and information on a wide variety of health topics.
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/communityfriend/2366254026/sizes/s/
Friday, March 14, 2008
Thoughts are turning to summer reading lists. Here are some samples available online:
- for Gr. 11 Socials from Reynold's Secondary
- LadLit from Dr. Charles Best Secondary Library
- YALSA'S 2008 Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults and Best Books for Young Adults 2008
The Alex Awards lists from YALSA as well as their wiki on recommended summer reading which includes Librarians' Choice: 100 Super Summer Reads for Teens.
I'm mulling over a plan to hold an online summer reading club using a wiki. My to do list includes:
- compiling reading lists
- deciding on cool prizes
- plan for holding an organizational meeting for students before the end of June.
This blog on youth literature from Australia caught my eye: Read Alert
And this interesting column on the state of reading from the New York Times.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nabeel/43015325/